“Water, is taught by thirst.”

– Emily Dickinson

A year ago, the annual snowpack in the Wood River and surrounding basins were right around 70% of average. This year the Wood River Basin sits at 65%, the Lost at 52%, and the Little Wood at 47%. While much of the southern part of the state is abnormally dry, the heart of Idaho is experiencing extreme drought conditions. This will severely impact irrigation and increase fire danger. Additionally, it will put a lot of stress on the local fisheries, especially in August and September when summer daytime temperatures can soar and flows drop. However, typical of drought years, the early season fishing can be quite good with flows dropping to wadable levels by mid-June and early July. With opening weekend over a month away, now is a good time to make plans for the summer. 

Silver Creek/ Big Wood/ South Fork of the Boise
These three rivers, and all their tributaries, are closed until Memorial weekend.

The Big Lost Below Mackay
The flows remain steady at 108 CFS and should hold through April into early May once irrigation demands begin. Decent hatches of both Baetis and midge, with midge the more prolific, are hatching as the day warms up.  For flies, bring the same assortment of dries and nymphs you might use on the Creek or the Wood as the fish can be selective. Dry dropper rigs with trailing nymphs or emmergers are very effective. Keep in mind, many fish are on redds spawning in the shallow water this time of year, so please leave these fish alone and mind your step.

Upper Salmon Steelhead
The Sawtooth Fish Hatchery is reporting 1,033 returns as of April 12th and the Pahsimeroi Fish Hatchery has recorded 1,852. The cool nights have kept the upper river clear and fishing pressure has been high. Remember, the steelhead season ends April 30th.

Spring is a great time to try stillwater fly fishing. Morman, Mackay, the Little Wood, and Magic can be fished either from the bank, a float tube, or a boat. Spring winds can be strong, so always follow safety precautions when floating.  Another option, a bit farther down the road, is the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. This fishery has been closed over the last year due to Covid, but has opened this spring to accept visitors once again. If you have a day or two, this is definitely worth the trip. This fishery is managed by the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and has three different reservoirs to pick from: Mountain View, Lake Billy Shaw, and Sheep Creek. For a small fee, you can fish all three, and camping facilities are available for an additional fee. As for techniques, try pulling a team of small leech patterns in black, brown, or olive on an intermediate or type 3 or 5 sinking line. Often spring trout are feeding on Daphnia, aka freshwater plankton, and a leech is a welcome meal.  Sheep Creek Specials always seem to work in Duck Valley. Also, suspending a series of nymphs or chironomids at the right depth can also be effective. Come on by the shop and we can set you up.

Big Lost: High Vis Adams | Griffiths Gnats | Midge Emerger | Perdichigons | Roza Pheasant Tail | TG Hide a Bead Baetis | Espresso Midge | Roza Black Perdigones | Duracell Jig | Jig Frenchie | Zebra Midge in black, red, or olive

Stillwater: Balance Leeches | Sheep Creek Special | Woolly Buggers | Seal Buggers | Chironomids | Damsel Nymphs | Prince Nymphs

Photo: David Reilly



Silver Creek 134 cfs
Big Wood 73.3 cfs
The Big Lost 108 cfs
South Fork of the Boise 600 cfs
Salmon River 1360 cfs